According to new World Bank data, remittance flows in 2020 to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were projected to fall by 7.2 per cent to USD 508 billion because of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which negatively affected wages and employment for migrant workers. Instead, remittance flows fell by only 1.6 per cent to USD 540 billion, defying projected declines that would have been the sharpest in recent history (World Bank, 2021).
According to the World Bank, the decline in recorded remittance flows in 2020 was smaller than the one during the 2009 global financial crisis (4.8%).
In terms of remittance inflows per region, flows rose in Latin America and the Caribbean (6.5%), South Asia (5.2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (2.3%); But remittance flows fell for East Asia and the Pacific (7.9%), Europe and Central Asia (9.7%), and Sub-Saharan Africa (12.5%).
According to the World Bank, the decline in flows to Sub-Saharan Africa was mostly due to a 28 per cent decline in remittance flows to Nigeria. Excluding flows to Nigeria, remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 2.3 per cent, demonstrating resilience.
Remittances to Nigeria decreased for several reasons, including a high premium on the naira/US$ exchange rate in informal markets, new license requirements for international money transfer operators that disrupted services for months, and a new policy that required the agent banks of money transfer operators to pay out in US dollars instead of naira.
Remittances flows also surpassed the sum of Foreign Direct Investments (USD 259 billion) and overseas development assistance (USD 179 billion) in 2020.
In 2020, the top five recipient countries for remittances inflows in current USD were India (83 billion), China (60 billion), Mexico (43 billion), the Philippines (35 billion), and Egypt (30 billion) (ibid.). India has been the largest recipient of remittances since 2008.
In 2020, the top three source countries for remittance outflows in current USD were the United States (68 billion), the United Arab Emirates (43 billion) and Saudi Arabia (35 billion).
© 2021 Global Migration Data Portal
Below is the table showing the top 10 remittance recipients in 2020: